When I grow up...


This scene from The Simpsons has come to my mind multiple times since I started grad school a month ago. Fortunately I have funding and lack the man-ponytail/bun (due to the fact that I'm not a man) but most of my cohort came in with one, so I guess that has some degree of accuracy. I have been thinking about the journey of my life (and sporadically regretting every choice I've ever made but ultimately being okay with them) and how being in my mid 20s in different than, well, not being in my mid 20s.

I used to think a lot about what I wanted to do when I grew up. But being "grown-up" has had a lot of different meanings to me over the years.

When I was eight, I remember writing short and (retrospectively speaking) shallow stories about eleven-year-old girls who going on adventures, because being eleven definitely sounded like being "grown-up." Probably due to my obsessions with the series The Amazing Days of Abby Hayes.

And then suddenly I was eleven and I thought I was awesome but definitely still a kid and so I begged God to make me get older and guess what--he did. Being sixteen was the next "grown-up" stage because that seemed to be the time when people got boyfriends and started driving and if those two things didn't mean adulthood what did?

I made it to sixteen and was (surprise) still feeling not quite adult-y and so being eighteen and moving away for college was the next stop on the road to being an adult.


College freshman attempts to make cookies
If I told you this picture on the right summed up that first year of college, you'd probably say I took some steps backwards. And you're probably right. But I sure did have fun.

When I decided to serve a mission for the LDS church, I was certain that upon my return from Germany I would be ancient (and of course oh-so-wise). Plus I'd be almost 22. And Taylor Swift already told me how I'd feel being 22 and clearly it was going to feel like freedom and decisiveness and I was definitely going to fall in love and start a long-term relationship.

This is the part of my life story where I questioned if I was ever going to be an adult because those things didn't actually happen. Life didn't go as I'd expected (does it ever?). For me, part of that was that being an adult meant getting married because that's when a lot of my friends started getting married and I was not (and am still not) married. I mean, I'd been influenced by Mormon culture and Mormons notoriously marry pretty young so 22 felt the right age to work towards that grown-up decision for my 22-year-old self.

"Feelin' 22" in 2014
Many of my female leaders at church growing up had married between the ages of 18 and 20 and I thought that was pretty normal. I remember distinctly thinking, my mom got married pretty late--I mean, she was already 23! And she was getting her masters degree at BYU so she was knocking out two things I considered very adult: marriage and further education.

But let's be real: the only cookie cutters I like are Christmas cookie cutters, so it shouldn't have been a surprise to me that 22 came and went and I still felt not very much grown-up and who knows if I would have felt grown-up even if I'd gotten married that young. I'm grateful for the time I've had to develop more as an individual and find out that there are different ways to grow up than what I'd thought.

So my next landmark was 25. That's a quarter of a century old, which rounded up to the nearest century would make me a centenarian, which is super old. I was bound to be grown up by then.

Clearly not one of the best days of functioning in the adult world

And here I stand, on the brink of that abyss, asking myself if I'm grown-up yet.
Surely buying a house (albeit tiny townhouse) qualifies me as an adult, or perhaps purchasing furniture, or sleeping in a full sized bed, or having worked a full time job and even having been a real teacher, or starting graduate school.
(That last one is debatable.)

But then I have those moments when I still consider gum a luxury item I only have when visiting my parents (even though it's literally $1 to buy gum). Or when I don't have a car and the biggest obstacle right now for that is stinkin' getting car insurance but I'm too afraid to call a place so I keep conveniently forgetting. Or when I eat carrots and hummus and oreos for dinner because cooking for one person is hard stuff.

When I fell in love with IU and decided to move to Indiana,
I decided moving across the country was saying
goodbye to my youth. It wasn't. 
When I was younger, being grown up evoked a certain image to mind. It included but was not limited to having a house, having a husband and a kid or two, cooking dinner every night, having a career, paying bills, growing a garden, having people over for dinner, and giving back to the community.

I don't have all of those. I am indeed an adult, but I think I'm also still in the process of growing up. I'm not done growing. I hope that I'll always be looking forward to the grown-up milestones coming in the next few years, that when I'm 30 I'll be thinking, "Well I'm sure I'll feel more grown up when I'm 35." Because there's another part of me that hopes I'll never truly finish growing up, no matter how integrated I get in the adult/grownup world.

I'm not going to use the word adulting to describe/not describe my life but Urbandictionary.com gave me these definitions and I find them important enough to share:

"Being a responsible adult. Used by immature 20-somethings who are proud of themselves for paying a bill. So tired from adulting! I went to my 8-5 job today! Look at me!" 
and
"Adulting (v): to carry out one or more of the duties and responsibilities expected of fully developed individuals (paying off that credit card debt, settling beef without blasting social media, etc). Exclusively used by those who adult less than 50% of the time.I was going to buy a sack of Blue Dream but I finally got my oil changed instead. Adulting!"

I'm not talking about adulting in my own life here. I'm talking about growing up.
It's quite the journey. But I'm loving hitting these different milestones, whether they be in Colorado, Utah, or Indiana and whether I be 11, 16, 22, or 25. What does grown-up look like to you? #growingup #bloominbloomington #feeling25

Technically I'm twice as grownup because I walked in two convocations within 7 months at BYU. So there's that.

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